Hancock County schools may start online program

NEW CUMBERLAND – Hancock County soon may be the first school district in West Virginia to operate its own online school.

The district is awaiting word on whether it has received a grant from the Pittsburgh-based Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to fund the school’s first year of operation, Superintendent Suzan Smith said.

Pending approval of the grant, the school board on Monday assigned 13 high school teachers to the task of developing online courses in social studies, biology, physical science, English and math.

“These would all be required classes,” Smith said.

The teachers have been given eight days in July to develop the curriculum, and the assignment also is effective for the summer of 2015.

“If this can become a reality, it’ll be great for the students,” board member John Manypenny said. “It’ll let students take some of their classes online through the high school, so it would benefit homebound students and students needing to recover course credit.”

Manypenny said the online school, once instituted, also could help increase the graduation rate and reduce the dropout rate.

The first-year funding requested for the Hancock County Online Academy is $120,000, Smith said, noting the district should know about the grant award by the end of the week.

Also Monday, the school board:

Rescinded a draft agreement with Northern Panhandle Head Start Inc. originally approved on April 7. The agreement would have allowed Head Start to use one of the pre-kindergarten classes at Allison Elementary School in Chester.

Board member Toni Hinerman said she recommended the rescinssion because the board and the school administration had been given inaccurate information about the agreement.

The agreement originally was passed by a vote of 3-2 with Smith’s recommendation. Head Start’s presence in Hancock County currently includes three centers in Weirton and one at Glendale Church of the Nazarene in Newell.

Learned teachers from Weirton Heights, Liberty and Broadview Elementary schools spent Monday moving into the new Weirton Elementary School and will be given two more days later in the month to finish.

“It is a reality. It’s here,” Smith said, noting everybody must be out of the old schools by June 17.

Learned that Liberty Elementary School has been named a Reward School by the West Virginia Department of Education for its “high performance and high progress.” To qualify, schools must be in the top 10 percent in reading, language arts and math on the WESTEST and have a 95 percent participation rate.

Accepted the resignation of Oak Glen High School Assistant Principal David Smith as boys head basketball coach.

Renewed a lease agreement with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for the continuing use of a section of Lawrenceville Community Park for an air monitoring tower.

Accepted a bid of $15,000 from West Virginia Signal & Light Inc., of Kenna, W.Va., for the installation of a flashing school zone light at Weirton Elementary School.

Approved the school meal prices for the 2014-15 school year, including 5-cent increases for breakfast and elementary, middle and high school lunches.

Rescinded a $26,740 bid from Bob Robinson Chevrolet of Wheeling for a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado maintenance truck. The truck will not work with the salt spreader the district wants to purchase.

Learned there will be an additional board meeting at 5 p.m. June 17 to consider applicants for two assistant principal positions at Oak Glen High School.